Ontario’s Rise of COVID-19 Cases Could Put an Early Move to Step 1 in Jeopardy – Top Official

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A surge in COVID-19 cases over the last two days has prompted Ontario’s top doctor to caution the chances of an earlier reopening are seeming “less promising”.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams told reporters on Thursday he’s concerned about the recent rise, and said it might be possibly attributed to the Victoria Day long weekend.

The province confirmed 870 new cases of the COVID-19 on Thursday, which comes after 699 new infections on Tuesday and 733 on Wednesday.

In spite of the daily surge in cases, Ontario’s rolling seven-day average continues to fall and now stands at 940.

“I hope we don’t have a continual rise over the weekend,” Williams said. “Getting over 1,000 again, that would be disappointing to say the least.”

“Let’s hope we can turn that around.”

Williams said he would have “better answers” for Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliot next week regarding whether Ontario can enter Step 1 before June 14.

He said he wants to ensure the increase in cases is “just a temporary one.”

Earlier on Thursday, Elliot said she comprehends that citizens are anxious to migrate into Step 1 and are eager for a decision on whether that timeline can be pushed up by some days.

“But we can only do that when it’s safe for everyone’s health for that to happen,” Elliott said, adding there was no information on when the final decision would be communicated.

Elliot said Ontario is also tracking the increase in variant cases, especially the “delta variant”, first discovered in India.

“The number have gone up slightly today, but generally they are trending downwards,” Elliott said. “We’re going to continue to follow the data.”

Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday, whereas announcing schools will not reopen this academic year, that he is waiting for advice from Williams regarding whether Ontario can push forward the Step 1 date.

Step 1 allows for Ontario to ease restrictions that primarily involving outdoor activities.

Outside gathering limits will increase to 10 persons, non-essential retail reopens at 15% capacity, and patios can reopen too.

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